Custom decals

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Robert Strickla

Hi everyone,

I've designed some custom decals for a frame I'm having repainted but I'm not sure the best way to
go about having them made. I don't mind spending a little bit of money to have them done
professionally (as long as it isn't too much) but I'm not sure what I should even be asking for.
What kind of processes and materials are available and what are the pro's and cons of each. I'll
probably have them applied and then clear-coated although I have considered just applying them on
top of the clear coat if that proves too complicated. Any recommendations?

Rob Strickland
> Any recommendations?

Several. Many people use vinyl decals from a sign shop. I don't like them because of the raised
edge. You can buy inkjet or laser decal paper from model suppliers ( or your local
model railroad shop) for your printer. Drawbacks: no white ink and you should run a test to make
sure the clearcoat is compatible. You can try to find someone with an ALPS decal printer. They print
white but have been discontinued for some time. Best bet is the local model railroad club. Or simply
have some printed. I use Screen Specialites Supplies in West Jefferson, NC as do most bike builders
in the US. There are companies that print short runs for the model train people but I've found that
our decals are a bit big for them. Find them in any model railroad magazine. Your art work should be
in Adobe Illustrator format-that's what most graphics houses (except for the model people) use. Is
that enough? Phil Brown
[email protected] (Phil Brown) wrote in message

You can buy inkjet or laser decal paper from model
> suppliers ( or your local model railroad shop) for your printer. Drawbacks: no white
> ink and you should run a test to make sure the clearcoat is compatible.

FWIW, I've experimented a bit with inkjet decal paper, and have some decals on my bike that I've
made that way. Most of mine were just black text in large fonts in a document that I printed on a
color inkjet printer. I put them on the bike and did not use clearcoat, as I knew I'd probably want
to take them off after a while. After several months, the crisp edges of the text have 'leaked' into
the surrounding clear film. Same deal with a color image.

I also tried printing a word on a solid red background to match some other red on the bike. It
looked great when it came out of the printer, but when I floated the decal off of it's backing, the
red then looked like red Saran wrap - almost totally translucent instead of the solid red I was
hoping for. No way would it cover the underlying decal as I'd hoped.

Perhaps if I'd clearcoated the simple text it might not run. On the whole, I've been pretty
disappointed with printing my decals myself. Phil's other suggestions are probably sound.

Erik Brooks
Here's an interesting web page that describes some decals produced by an amateur for a Carlton
Bicycle Restoration :

Some interesting things were learned during this process :

- Decals must be waterproofed with Krylon spray; the spray dissolves certain black inks; if you have
this problem, then just remove your black cartridge and change your black art areas to quasi-black
(a dark mix of 3 colors that isn't exactly black). Do test-prints on white paper to make sure the
black cartridge isn't being used.

- To solve the "no white decals on clear film" printing problem, buy white decal paper and just use
the inkjet to print a color very close to your frame color ON WHITE INKJET PAPER (not clear, as
the previous email suggested).

I think that you can probably pass the "12 inch test" with the following color-matching technique:

1. Print 10-20 test color-circles, maybe 1" across with a 1/2" hole in each of them. Record color
wheel values with each test color on the printout

2. Punch out all the holes.

3. Try each hole atop your frame in direct sunlight and decide which one or two are closest to
the making the color "disappear" between your paper and your frame.

4. If necessary, using recorded color wheel values, come up with a new set of nearby colors and
repeat the process.

- Don Gillies San Diego, CA
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